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Q&A: Interview with @MirantisIT Talking #OpenStack Training and Certification

Mirantis is on a roll. The Mountain View, California-based OpenStack vendor reported closing a record-breaking (for open source software) Series B funding round in December 2014 of $100 million. Now the company claims to be the number one learning resource for delivering OpenStack training in the world, with more than 5,000 graduates to date taught at more than 70 locations around the world. I recently spoke with Lee Xie, Head of OpenStack Training Services, Mirantis, about what factors contributed to their success in educating so many professionals on this popular private cloud platform.

VMblog:  Lots of people offer OpenStack training, why should someone choose Mirantis?

Lee Xie:  I've personally taken many of the OpenStack courses out there and came to the conclusion that there are three big reasons why students prefer a OpenStack learning experience from Mirantis.

The first is that our course is based on 100% pure OpenStack and free of vendor-specific content. By comparison, in other courses like Red Hat's CL210, they teach commands in their labs that won't work outside their Redhat OpenStack Distro. Students study commands and educating themselves on OpenStack skills that they can't take and use on other platforms.

The second is that our course lives up to the name: "bootcamp", the schedule is very tight and strenuous and students often claim that it's much harder than a normal 9-6 workday. We understand that there's a large opportunity cost to spending three to four days on training, so we design our courses to be rigorous, challenging, and to get students from new to expert in a relatively short amount of time.

Finally, our instructors are not puppets! You think I'm joking or poking fun, but many of the courses out there are done by instructors that don't know OpenStack. They may know about how to lead a training, but they follow a precise script and can't answer the deeper questions. This is a common result of outsourcing training - the instructors are training OpenStack today and Microsoft Visual Basic next week. At Mirantis, all our instructors are OpenStack Experts first and trainers second. They all have a strong engineering background and are specialized in OpenStack, and they don't teach classes on any other topics.

So I'm biased, but we think it's the best training out there, of course! We've been doing these courses and adding to them since 2011. And we make it easy to take our courses.  Today we have more than 70 training locations on six continents (sorry, Antarctica will remain under served for now). So we have the most experience in OpenStack training and we have been delivering those courses longer than anyone else. Nearly 90% of our graduating students tell us we're the best training in OpenStack they've ever had.

VMblog:  Can you tell us what's new in your recent announcement on training?

Xie:  To better connect the OpenStack community, Mirantis Certified professionals will now be listed in Mirantis' new Certificate Verification portal. The portal lets potential employers search for Mirantis-Certified professionals and verify their credentials with their certification number. The certifications -- basic or advanced -- are based on passing a proctored online test for basic and hands-on competence demonstration with an instructor for advanced. You don't have to take a Mirantis course to take a certification exam.

We've also expanded our course offerings. In addition to our most popular course, OpenStack Bootcamp I (OS100), Mirantis now offers OpenStack Fundamentals (OS50), a one-day course for business professionals (the only publicly-available course of its kind on the market), and OpenStack Bootcamp II (OS200), a training for students with an extensive background in OpenStack.

VMblog:  So much of training is about the quality of the teaching.  How do you scale your education services and also maintain high standards with your faculty?

Xie:  All of our instructors have a variety of real-world technical experience, including devops, system administrator, engineering work, and more (you can check out some of our instructors online here: http://training.mirantis.com/meet-our-instructors). Our teachers are subject-matter experts and bring with them experience in many fields, even outside of OpenStack. Our instructors develop the OpenStack training curriculum with a combination of theory and practice. Almost two-thirds of instruction in our courses is actually hands-on. Students stand up real OpenStack clouds. In fact, a December 2014 TechValidate survey of our recent graduates showed that more than 30% took what they learned in class back to work and built a new OpenStack cloud for their employer. That's great ROI for any organization.

VMblog:  Who should attend OpenStack Bootcamp I by Mirantis?

Xie:  OpenStack Bootcamp I (OS100) is designed for cloud administrators, Linux system administrators, and any IT professionals responsible for managing, maintaining or supporting cloud operations.

VMblog:  And what are the prerequisites for taking OpenStack Bootcamp I by Mirantis?

Xie:  Before taking OpenStack Bootcamp I, you should have a basic understanding of the Linux command line, virtualization concepts and networking concepts. If you're not sure whether you're ready, check out these free video training sessions, which introduce some of the core concepts underlying OpenStack.

VMblog:  So tell me, what can I expect to learn from Mirantis training?

Xie:  Of course, at the end of the day, it's all about the knowledge and skills you take home with you. At the end of the class, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of all the steps necessary to operate an OpenStack cluster. From configuration through architecture, best practice and component interaction, you'll go back to work (or your job search) prepared for the real-world challenges faced by OpenStack administrators.

More information on Mirantis training is available online:

●     Training website FAQ page

●     Online OpenStack training resources

●     OpenStack Certification Study Guide

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Once again, a special thank you to Lee Xie, head of OpenStack Training Services at Mirantis, for taking time out to speak with VMblog.com.   

Published Wednesday, January 21, 2015 8:20 AM by David Marshall
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